BEULAH, Colo. (AP) — A wildfire that has forced hundreds of evacuations in southern Colorado destroyed at least eight homes, but firefighters took advantage of calmer weather Tuesday to get a handle on the blaze.
Three helicopters and three air tankers, along with about 400 firefighters on the ground, battled the wildfire near Beulah on Tuesday, preventing additional evacuations.
The fire, which has scorched about 8 square miles, was reported near the small town Monday and quickly spread in winds that gusted up to 50 mph. All people living in the town and the surrounding valley southwest of Pueblo — about 1,950 residents — were ultimately ordered to leave the area after the flames spread in various directions.
They have not yet been allowed to return home.
Winds were not quite as strong Tuesday, allowing helicopters to drop water on the fire, which is burning on terrain ranging from grassy plains and steep canyons. The area has a mix of both permanent homes and vacation properties.
“We got some air support in here today and we’re going to kill this thing,” Pueblo County Sheriff Kirk Taylor said.
He said it was a difficult decision to expand the evacuation order because of the fire’s unpredictability and promised to let residents back into their homes as soon as possible.
No injuries have been reported and no cause has been announced.
The wildfire comes after a relatively quiet fire season in Colorado as the weather begins to turn colder. As the fire burned, snow fell in parts of western Colorado’s mountains, causing accidents along portions of Interstate 70. However, at lower elevations in the state’s eastern half, winds and prolonged dry weather were still making it easy for any spark to spread into a fire.
A car accident started a grass fire along a highway in Boulder County on Tuesday morning, but firefighters were able to stop it at about 2 acres.